As a roadtrippin’ momma, it’s no surprise that the Kia Niro grabbed my attention. It was attraction at first sight.
Why? 50 MPG. That’s why.
I met the Kia Niro in Atlanta at Blogalicious. It was the fall of 2016. At that point, it was only on display and not available for a test drive. But I was like the hungry kid drooling in the baker’s window. The Drive Shop Team in charge of Kia test drives at the conference took pity on me, and let me inspect the insides (read: I wanted to review the roominess of the back seat [my kid is only getting bigger] and the trunk space [camping gear]).
Thankfully, it was only a few months later that I had the opportunity to revisit my crush on the Kia Niro. This time in San Diego at the Dad 2.017 conference. As a sponsor, Kia was offering the “Ride and Drive” experience – and the Niro was one of the available cars. And y’all, they let me take it out for a spin on my own. There’s a video about that.
Needless to say, I was over-joyed when I received the invitation from Kia Motors America to have an opportunity to evaluate their Eco-friendly line (which included the Kia Niro Hybrid). OVER-JOYED.
So much thanks to Kia Motors America for inviting me to be a part of the VIP Exclusive Brand Experience in San Diego.
What is an exclusive brand experience?
It means that Kia invited me to San Diego for a couple of days to learn more about the brand and the Eco-friendly cars in their fleet. They paid for my flight and hotel stay – not to mention my food and drink – while I was there. They organized an experience filled with light and music and friends (other bloggers) from across the country.
So, now you know.
My promise to you is that I won’t let their schoomzing cloud my telling of the story. Just like with any experience that’s been covered by a brand, agency or restaurant, I’m gonna tell it like it is…
But, as I’ve already stated…The Kia Niro had my heart at 50 MPG back almost 8 months before this invite ever came in. So, there IS that.
Is This for Real?
Look, I got an email with this Save the Date information and didn’t really believe it. I mean, I even reached out to a couple of my blogger friends, those that I knew were already a part of the #KiaFamily, and asked…
Is this for real?
I could barely believe it. I was even timid to mention it until my flight was confirmed. Because…y’all – it was a pretty big deal. HUGE. My first big engagement as a blogger with a brand. And I was excited. Like Cinderella must have felt during the first few minutes with her fairy godmother.
A couple of things you need to know upfront:
FIRST: Kia is not the brand it used to be. They came onto the American market with poorly made vehicles that left people feeling underwhelmed (UNDERSTATEMENT). Even they recognize that and spent time talking about the brand shift during our information session. They have worked on a complete overhaul of their products. And if you’re on the market for a car, you should include Kia in your research.
SECOND: The Kia team pegged me well for this event. I am interested and focused on sustainability. So getting a chance to evaluate the hybrids and electric vehicles (EV) in their fleet was totally up my alley. It continues to be as one of my clients recently installed a charge station at their location and I’m working on helping amplify that fact on sites like ChargePoint.
The first day (or half day, I should say) was all about orientation and networking. Bloggers were getting in at different times from different areas all around the country (some coming back in from media trips outside the country). I knew some of them – and met a whole lot of new ones. Amazing individuals with so many storytelling skills. I was honored to be among them.
One of my favorite opportunities was getting the chance to talk with the Kia marketing team. (Check out the picture from Cielo Roth Photography to the left.) Having recently left a position with a corporate marketing team, my mind was curious about the logistics and planning required to pull off an event like this.
The second day was a deep dive into the brand. We attended an information session just after breakfast to learn more about Kia’s history, their radical change towards craftsmanship and their plans for the future. (This includes the Kia Stinger – more about that model in a future blog post.)
And then, they let us drive. So, from about 10am to 4pm, we were in different models driving through the streets of San Diego. I spent the day with JD Andrews of EarthXplorer Media and Cacinda Maloney of Pointsandtravel. I’m telling you what – I was in the backseat busy taking notes from these two well-experienced travel bloggers. We tested out 3 different Kia models and drove to several different spots of interest (stay tuned for more detailed stories on our adventures).
The evening was a riot of live-band karaoke and late-night story sharing in the Kia Lounge. And then, the next day, we were packed and catching shuttles to the airport. I think I counted being there and back within 60 hours.
Look, you don’t have to be “all-granola” to consider the benefits of an Eco-friendly vehicle.
Sure, there are some differences that you’ll have to keep in mind with a hybrid or EV, but life always challenges us with differences…and before we know it, they’re norms.
Here are some basic reasons that an Eco-friendly vehicle should be on your list to consider:
- they’re good (better) for the environment
- they can help you save money (think Federal or State rebates)
- EV’s can provide a bit of extra torque (read: FUN to drive)
- more places are offering preferred parking for Eco-friendly rides
- HOV access
- you don’t have to worry as much about getting gas
- more and more locations are offering low-cost or FREE charging stations
Well, I’ve still got some time with Grizz (new in 2015). Unless something changes drastically, there’s no reason for me to look at buying or trading in for a new car.
But I do have my mind set on something Eco-friendly. At least for the every day car and most definitely the roadtrippin’ car (my plans for a rock-crawling playtime vehicle can wait for another post).
And, my heart is captivated by the Kia Niro. So…I will most certainly be watching and waiting for the right moment to make a change.